Shirer Could Get First Graded Stakes Win With She’s Lookin Lucky

March 29, 2023

She’s Lookin Lucky in a morning work at Oaklawn. (Coady Photography)

Oaklawn Barn Notes by Robert Yates

HOT SPRINGS, Ark.—The rapidly improving She’s Lookin Lucky will try to give trainer Matt Shirer his first career graded stakes victory in the $600,000 Fantasy (G3) for 3-year-old fillies at 1 1/16 miles Saturday at Oaklawn.

The Fantasy will offer 200 points to the top five finishers (100-40-30-20-10, respectively) toward starting eligibility for the Kentucky Oaks, the country’s biggest race for 3-year-old fillies.

Shirer, 37, has three career starts in graded stakes races, according to Equibase, racing’s official data gathering organization, with his best finish being a second with Kneedeepinsnow in the $350,000 Alfred G. Vanderbilt Handicap (G1) last July at Saratoga.

She’s Lookin Lucky, based on her last two starts, is the 5-2 second choice in the program for the Fantasy. She broke her maiden by 13 ¼ lengths in a 1 mile and 70-yard off-the-turf event Feb. 9 at Fair Grounds and finished second, beaten 4 ¼ lengths by Punchbowl, in an entry-level allowance at 1 1/16 miles March 5 at Oaklawn. Punchbowl (2 for 2) is a prized 3-year-old filly for trainer Brad Cox, who also conditions Wet Paint, the 8-5 program favorite for the Fantasy.

“I figured that’s probably what was going on with that,” Shirer said Tuesday morning. “Her numbers are good. Beyer-wise, she ran an 87 when she broke her maiden and then backed it up with an 82. She kind of bounced a little bit off the big effort, so I think if she runs back to a similar number she did breaking her maiden, she’s going to be right there.”

A daughter of champion and Oaklawn Rebel winner Lookin At Lucky, She’s Lookin Lucky has made her last two starts with Shirer after beginning her racing career with trainer Al Stall and breeder/owner Richard Dunn. 

“Richard called and said he was going to make a move and sent her over to me,” Shirer said. “We worked her a couple of times at Fair Grounds. She worked good and got her into a maiden special and she ran great. She hadn’t run too good in her previous start, so I wasn’t sure what had gone on there. She’s always been straight forward since I got her.”

She’s Lookin Lucky is now campaigned by Dunn, Ten Strike Racing (founding partners Marshall Gramm and Arkansas native Clay Sanders), Gary Barber, Jeremy Sussman and Baltimore Ravens offensive coordinator Todd Monken. Monken won NCAA national championships the past two seasons as offensive coordinator at the University of Georgia.

Shirer already trained for Ten Strike, Sussman and Monken and put Gramm in touch with Dunn following the filly’s blowout maiden victory. Shirer noted that Gramm is a big fan of Lookin At Lucky offspring, which helped facilitate the deal to buy into the filly. 

“Jeremy Sussman and Todd Monken are partners with Marshall on other horses,” Shirer said. “I started training for him (Monken) – it’s been three years. He’s got pieces of a couple of other horses we claimed. Laid-back guy. Just loves watching.”

Shirer, who is wintering at Oaklawn for the first time in 2022-2023, has a 5-5-5 record from 21 starts at the meeting and purse earnings of $318,667. He saddled his first career winner in 2015.

In addition to the Vanderbilt, Kneedeepinsnow, an $80,000 claim last April at Keeneland by Ten Strike and Sussman, finished seventh in the $600,000 Forego Stakes (G1) last August at Saratoga. Bernabreezy, Shirer’s first career graded stakes starter, finished sixth in the $400,000 Fair Grounds Oaks (G2) last March at Fair Grounds. 

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